V.League 1 title, relegation races kick off
The second leg of the V.League 1 season will start on Friday, with eight teams battling it out for the title and six fighting to avoid relegation.
|Hanoi FC players seen in a recent V.League 1 match. — Photo zing.vn|
The championship contenders include Sai Gon FC (24 points), Viettel (22 points), Quang Ninh Coal (21 points), Hanoi FC, HCM City FC, Becamex Binh Duong, Hoang Anh Gia Lai (20 points) and Hong Linh Ha Tinh (18 points).
Although there are eight teams, the title race is almost exclusively centred around four teams: Hanoi, Viettel, Sai Gon and HCM City.
While Quang Ninh are still mathematically in the hunt, they inexplicably loaned three of their best players to Hai Phong FC, leaving the four sides from the nation's two biggest cities to battle it out.
Hanoi and HCM City play on Saturday and a defeat would be a severe blow for their team's title dreams.
In the last two matches, defending champions Hanoi drew with Quang Nam and Thanh Hoa, continuing their patchy form this season. However, the capital side have perhaps the best collection of talent in the country, making them a threat to turn any match around.
Last season, HCM City were on top at the halfway stage of the season, but Hanoi managed to reel them in and take the title, something that may give league leader's Sai Gon FC pause for thought.
Sai Gon defeated Hanoi 1-0 at Hang Day Stadium in the first half of the season and have four matches at home to round off the year, making them favourites to take the title.
Viettel also have a quality squad and being only two points behind Sai Gon and the only team to have beaten them in the league, the other Hanoi team must feel good about their chances.
At the other end of the table, this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic only one team will be relegated from the top-flight and replaced by the V.League 2 champions.
Out of the six teams fighting to avoid relegation, basement dwellers Quang Nam seem most likely to face the dreaded drop. They have only nine points, four behind Nam Dinh and Hai Phong directly above them.
Coach Dao Quang Hung of Quang Nam said his team are facing many difficulties and will make every effort to stay up, but he has acknowledged the enormity of the task ahead of them.
Meanwhile, Da Nang (16 points), Thanh Hoa and Song Lam Nghe An (15 points) seem to be safe as with only five matches left, it would take an improbable collapse for any of them to be relegated. VNS
Local football teams are ready for the resumption of the V.League 1 season after the second postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
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